The permanent revolution: New Labour, new public management and the modernisation of criminal justice

McLaughlin, Eugene, Muncie, John and Hughes, Gordon (2001) The permanent revolution: New Labour, new public management and the modernisation of criminal justice. Criminal Justice and Criminology, 3, (3), 301-318. (doi:10.1177/1466802501001003003).


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The soundbite `tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime' was crucial to both the ideological rebirth of the Labour Party as `New Labour' and its landslide victory in the 1997 General Election. Indeed, one of New Labour's most remarkable political achievements, during its first term of office, was to have forged a `Third Way' law and order position that has successfully challenged the idea that social democratic political parties are by definition `soft on crime'. This article outlines and evaluates the key strategies underpinning New Labour's core governmental project of `modernization through managerialization' in criminal justice. Throughout, a focus on crime reduction and youth justice is maintained, since addressing these `wicked issues' is pivotal to realizing New Labour's long-term objective of commanding the centre ground of law and order politics in the UK. We argue that an institutionalization and normalization of managerialism is taking place to `resolve' the contradictions, tensions and disconnections generated by the Conservatives' incomplete public sector reform project and to create the basis for achieving the long-held ideal of a cost-effective, efficient, `seamless' criminal justice system. In the conclusion we discuss the implications of the open-ended relationship between the unrelenting managerialization of criminal justice and the on-going politicization of law and order associated with New Labour's electoral promise to be `tough on crime'

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1177/1466802501001003003
ISSNs: 1748-8958 (print)
1748-8966 (electronic)
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
Divisions : Faculty of Social and Human Sciences > Social Sciences
ePrint ID: 340142
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
August 2001Published
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2012 14:28
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 14:29

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